Foods That Raise Blood Sugar

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The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index ranks foods on how they affect our blood sugar levels. This index measures how much your blood sugar increases after you eat. When you make use of the glycemic index to prepare healthy meals, it helps to keep your blood sugar levels under control. This is especially important for people with diabetes, although athletes and people who are overweight also stand to benefit from knowing about this relatively new concept in good nutrition. Recent studies of large numbers of people with diabetes show that those who keep their blood sugar under tight control best avoid the complications that this disease can lead to. The experts agree that what works best for people with diabetes—and probably everyone—is regular exercise, little saturated and trans fat, and a high-fiber diet. That is excellent advice—as far as it goes. The real problem is carbohydrates, and that's what the glycemic index is all about. Foods high in fat or protein don’t cause your blood sugar level to rise much. The official consensus remains that a high-carbohydrate diet is best for people with diabetes. However, some experts recommend a low-carbohydrate diet, because carbohydrates break down qu Continue reading >>

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  1. MarkM

    The effect of zero carb foods on blood sugar

    Below is an assignment I did for the teaching course I am doing. It is a "personal science investigation", and I did mine on how lettuce affects blood glucose. It may help de-mystify the effect of low carb food on blood glucose for some of you.

    Science Investigation

    The Effects of food containing minimal amounts of Carbohydrate or Protein on the Blood Glucose of a Type 1 Diabetic. By Mark Munday
    The purpose of this investigation is to challenge the conventional medical wisdom that only food containing substantial amounts of carbohydrate and/or protein increases blood sugar.
    This popular view is predicated on the well established understanding of how carbohydrate and protein are metabolised. Carbohydrate and, to a lesser extent, protein, are converted into glucose. This glucose gets into the bloodstream and raises serum blood glucose. Food that doesn’t contain these macronutrients is not converted into glucose.
    Everyone agrees on this, but the supposition that follows on from it is questionable. It is generally assumed that food containing minimal amounts of carbohydrate or protein do not have a significant affect on blood glucose.
    This is clearly a fallacy of composition. It would be true if blood glucose was only increased by the food we eat, but this is not the case. Hepatic glucose (from glycogen stored in the liver) has a major impact on blood glucose levels too.
    The notion that only carbohydrate increases blood glucose has become so entrenched in orthodox medical opinion that the popular insulin dosing protocol has been based on it. Patients are instructed on how to calculate an insulin:carb ratio, and they are told to use this ratio in calculating mealtime bolus dosages. The insulin dose is based on the carbohydrate content of the meal alone, and nothing else is taken into consideration.
    Dosing in this fashion works reasonably well with a high carb diet. But when a low carb, high protein/fat way of eating is adhered to, the insulin:carb ratio becomes meaningless. It also becomes clear when eating this way that large amounts of bolus insulin are required to cover food that contains very little carbohydrate and protein.
    This investigation demonstrates systematically the glycemic effect of eating food containing very little carbohydrate and protein.
    To test the effect of a meal containing minimal amounts of carbohydrate and protein on blood glucose, a lettuces were consumed while all other independent variables were held as constant as possible. A lettuce makes a suitable meal for this purpose because its volume is substantial, while the amounts of carbohydrate and protein are minimal.
    Nutritional data for an Iceberg lettuce is as follows (source : www.nutriondata.com).
    Note that the lettuce contains only 10 grams of carbohydrate, 4 of which are fibre. As fibre does not get converted into glucose, only the remaining six grams of carbohydrate and the 3 grams of protein would directly increase blood glucose.
    The test period was started at 5pm, as enough time has passed for lunch to have been fully digested and metabolised. After 5 hours, the lunchtime bolus insulin action is also all over.
    The lettuce was consumed at 5pm, after testing the blood glucose level. Tests were also done at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, and 9pm. No other food or drink was consumed, and exercise was avoided during this period. The test was done twice to demonstrate a consistent and reproducible effect.
    Similar fasting tests were done on a separate day. No food was consumed before or during the 4 hour test period. This was done to show that basal insulin action kept blood glucose stable in the absence of food.
    In all cases anything that might affect blood glucose was avoided during the afternoon before the test. No food was eaten, no exercise was undertaken, and no insulin correction doses were taken. Basal insulin dosages (Lantus) were adjusted beforehand to ensure that blood glucose stayed constant in the target range, in the absence of food and bolus insulin. Arranging this was the most challenging aspect of the experiment.
    The table below contains the results of these tests.
    The columns contain blood glucose readings in mmol/l during a fasting test and after two lettuce-only meals. The last column is the average of the Lettuce 1 and Lettuce 2 test data.
    The two lettuce tests were started from different blood glucose levels (8.1 and 5.8 mmol/l respectively), which appears to have resulted in different glycemic profiles. The numbers were also affected to some extent by non-controllable independent variables, which created some scatter in the data. To create a meaningful representation of these results, readings for the two lettuce meal tests were averaged. This eliminates noise factors and clearly demonstrates the effect of a voluminous meal that contains only small amounts of carbohydrate and protein.
    The data is graphed below :
    The difference between eating nothing (Fasting) and eating Lettuce (Lettuce 1, Lettuce 2 and the Average) is substantial.
    The test results show that consuming large amounts of food containing small amounts of carbohydrate and protein raises blood glucose by more than would be expected on the basis of the carbophydrate/protein content of the food in question. This suggests that simply filling the stomach increases blood glucose.
    While most endocrinologists do not acknowledge this effect, it has been observed and commented on by Richard Bernstein in his book Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution (pg 95-96). Filling the stomach starts a cascade of events that result in a surge of hepatic glucose. This causes a substantial rise in blood glucose, as reflected in the test results.
    Bernstein calls this the Chinese Restaurant Effect. As can be seen from the test results, it accounts for a substantial rise in blood glucose. The 6 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of protein could be expected to raise blood glucose by perhaps 3 mmol/l. But the lettuce meal raised blood glucose by over 7 mmol/l above the corresponding fasting level. The difference (4 mmol/l) can only be explained by the Chinese Restaurant effect. A significant amount of insulin is required to cover this and maintain stable blood glucose.
    The glycemic effect of filling the stomach is not taken into account in the conventional carbohydrate:ratio bolus insulin dosing method. In view of the magnitude of this effect, correct dosing decisions cannot be made when only the carbohydrate and protein content of the meal are factored into the dosage calculation. This shortcoming causes confusion, it compromises glycemic control, and it leaves insulin dependent diabetics feeling inadequate.
    The fact that blood glucose did not return to the pre-prandial level also suggests a hidden effect. It appears that the increased level of blood glucose increase insulin resistance to the point where basal insulin action is no longer adequate. While this is speculative, it is supported by the fact that the Lettuce 2 numbers, which started from a low level, decreased markedly during the 4th hour of the test. The Lettuce 1 readings, on the other hand, increased throughout the period. More research is needed to verify this.
    The test results demonstrate clearly the existence and magnitude of the Chinese Restaurant Effect. That mainstream endocrinologists have not picked up on this and built it into their treatment protocol is indeed unfortunate. The “experts” really should know better.

  2. HarleyGuy

    A+...Excellent work young man.....excellent work.

  3. Caraline

    That is an extremely interesting article Mark and I am a believer! A while back I tried a diet of 40 grams of carbs per day instead of my usual 100. I was completely blown away & annoyed by the fact that my TDD of insulin actualy skyrocketed. I gave up in frustration after about 4 weeks. Because the whole thing just completely defied mathematics I came to the conclusion that either the extra fats and/or proteins had caused a temporary insulin resistance, but maybe some of it at least was to do with this Chinese Restaurant Effect.
    Interestingly I also stacked on weight fast, but I do admit my overall calorie intake would have been elevated because I felt so hungry all the time and I was eating way more than I normally do.
    I think we have only see the tip of the iceberg (isn't that the name of a lettuce?) with understanding food & what it does to us.
    That was a very enjoyable article. Thank you.

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